So after all the controversy between Russia and Ukraine over the last few years culmintaed in Yulia Samoylova, the Russian entry, being banned from performing in the competition it appears that Russia are going to win anyway. Seventeen year old Bulgarian contestant Kristian Kostov was born in Moscow and was even a contestant on The Voice Kids Russia, before he finished fourth in the Bulgarian X Factor. The reasons that I believe Beautiful Mess will win Eurovision are as follows;
Kristian can sing
He showed in the semi-final on Thursday the he’s capable of singing effortlessly live, he doesn’t suffer from nerves and his falsetto on certain not really does deliver a dramatic effect. This is the opposite of what Blanche from Belgium does as she looks a bag of nerves on stage.
I would describe this song as ‘contemporary electropop’ which is similar to where I would have put Australia’s entry from 2016. The juries completely lapped up Dami’s performance last year and can see the juries all marking this highly, I’d be amazed Beautiful Mess doesn’t make it into the top 2 of the jury votes.
Another major plus for this song against its market rivals is that it’s in English. We’ve seen it time and time again that fancied songs not in English crash and burn, there’s only been a single non-English song win since the turn of the century. That song was Serbia in 2007, however Serbian is a recognised dialect in Croatia, Bosnia, Hungary, Slovakia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Czech Republic. Whilst Portuguese is the official language in nine countries the people of Brazil, East Timor, Mozambique and even those living in Portugal cannot vote for Salvador Sobral with Amar Pelos Dois to win. To me that song has now become the Eurovision ‘fanwank’ of 2017. It’s a bit like hipster syndrome, somebody from their bubble says that it’s ‘cool’ to pay £6 for a bowl of cereal, in some east-end cesspit and then others follow. However what people from inside the bubble don’t realise is that the majority don’t agree with and won’t follow them. The Eurovision world is like a bubble, but one in which most people only look into on the Saturday night, there’s one chance to make a connection and as charming as Salvador is, I don’t see him connecting with casual viewers in Belgrade, Skopje, Bucharest etc.
As I mentioned above I don’t see Salvador connecting with the public as much as young Kristian does, for a start the Bulgarian looks into the camera, whereas the Portuguese entrant looks like he’s in the middle of a three minute outbreak of tourette’s. From a visual point of view, I personally found it off-putting, especially as he was the only thing to concentrate on, as he’s performing from an island int he middle of the crowd. Bulgaria by contrast uses the stage and clever lighting, which fits the words of the song whilst also creating a sense of electricity. This is similar to what Sweden did in 2015 and Russia in 2016, when they won either the jury or public vote, with pop songs sung in English.
With his main market rivals are drawn to sing in the first half and with Italy (9), another non-English song, performing before Portugal (11) and another fifteen songs after that, I can see both of these songs being lost.I also don’t believe that Italy, which is meant to be a fun entry is helped by having Hungary (8) and Moldova (7) performing directly before it. If the Italian entry was performed by a Macedonian act it would’ve been written of as a joke and not the odds-on 1.67 favourite it was on Tuesday. It’s now drifted out to 3.00 but for me it’s still taking up too much of the market. With Bulgaria singing from slot 25, I think it will be a lot more memorable than two songs that were performed and hour before it, which nobody will be able to remember the words to.
Diaspora and Voting Blocs
Whilst I don’t get caught up in the ‘politics’ of Eurovision the way we do in the country, with the everybody hates us bullshit The Daily Mail put out every year, I do recognise the voting blocs. Whilst Bulgaria isn’t a recognised member of any voting blocs, neither is Italy or Portugal.
What Bulgaria does have however have on it’s side is large communities in Greece, Spain, Germany, Italy and The UK. Another factor to take into account this year is that some of the key voting blocs don’t have acts in the final. The countries of the former Yugoslav Republic only have Croatia, whereas the usual countries that vote for Russia can’t vote for them this year. With these votes having to go somewhere I’d be confident a large proportion of them go towards a young
Russian Bulgarian boy who sings a song they can understand and will remember when the voting lines open.
There are so many ethnic Russians living in other countries throughout Europe, largely due to the breakup of The Soviet Union, that the Russian televote is always high, as you can’t vote for the country you’re living it yet they are able to vote for the Motherland. With no Russia in this years contest, assuming they watch the show, I would imagine a large number of the dispersed Russians will be voting for ‘one of their own’. I found it interesting that on Thursday evening, just before the semi-final, news broke that Kristian was being investigated for a trip he took to Crimea in 2014 and therefore may not have been allowed to partake in the contest (exactly what happened to this year’s Russian entry). It was decided that he’s broken no laws and was allowed to take his place, but the news that he’s Russian and ‘loyal to the Motherland’ is out there and that can only help his chances.
For me this is simple, I expect Bulgaria to be in the top two of the jury vote and I expect them to win the public vote (second at worst), looking back at last year Jamala won the contest without winning her semi-final, public vote or jury vote. The reason Australia didn’t win is because it finished fourth in the public vote, whereas Russia didn’t win because despite winning the public vote, they could only finish fifth with the juries. As I said I fully expect Bulgaria to finish ahead higher than both of those positions and for me Kristian Kostov’s Beautiful Mess should be favourite.